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JCC Annual Meeting & Gala to be held June 3

Sepia tone photo of the exterior of a delicatessen along with text promoting the JCC's 2018 Annual Meeting and Gala.

Tickets for our June 3 Gala are sold out!
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The Sam Pomeranz Jewish Community Center of Syracuse is gearing up to celebrate its biggest and most important annual fundraiser. The JCC of Syracuse’s 155th Annual Meeting and Gala, presented by naming sponsor The Wladis Companies, will be held on Sunday, June 3 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Owera Vineyards in Cazenovia. The event will feature an awards ceremony recognizing a wide range of outstanding service in support of the JCC and the community.

This year’s gala theme is a “Lower East Side Experience.” It will kick off with a cocktail hour, which will give way to an authentic deli-style brunch. Following a brief business meeting, 11 awards will be presented.

“We are delighted to recognize another superb group of honorees this year,” said Marci Erlebacher, JCC executive director. “The amazing service and support that these individuals and organizations have given to the JCC and to the local Jewish community is truly remarkable.”

As in previous years, the gala’s proceeds will provide significant funding for scholarships to individuals in the JCC’s early childhood, after school, summer camp and senior programs. Thanks to the many gala supporters last year, the JCC granted over $40,000 in scholarship requests, served over 6,000 meals to seniors and offered fitness classes at a discount to those in need.

This year’s honorees represent dedication and support and they will receive a personalized plaque or statue as a token of their honor.

The Kovod Award, which signifies honor and importance, will be presented to longtime JCC volunteer Donna Lipton and JCC board member Lynne Pascale.

2018 Kovod Award recipient Donna Lipton.Donna Lipton, a self-professed “exercise addict,” taught a weekly senior fitness class at the JCC as a volunteer for 15 years before retiring last October. Her love for exercising began in the 1980s when she started taking aerobics classes. After retiring as a sales administrator for a manufacturer’s representative, she began volunteering as an exercise instructor at the Manlius Senior Centre, and then at the JCC. Other organizations where she has volunteered include the Jewish Music and Cultural Festival, Manlius Historical Society, Preservation Association of New York, Park Avery House Museum, Onondaga Hill Antique Club and Menorah Park. In 2006, she was inducted into the Manlius Senior Centre Hall of Fame. She has served on the board of her synagogue, Congregation Beth Sholom-Chevra Chas, and she started its Hazak group. She remains active with CBS-CS. She and husband, Sid, raised three children—all of whom learned to swim at the JCC of Syracuse when it was located on East Genesee St.

2018 Kovod Award recipient Lynne Pascale.Lynne Della Pelle Pascale holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Syracuse University. She is the owner of Farmer Street Pantry, a local specialty food business whose products feature orchard fruit ingredients. She previously was the director of development at Onondaga Historical Association (OHA) in Syracuse. She joined the JCC of Syracuse board in 2013 and has served on the Gala Committee, including as gala chairperson. While at OHA, she helped raise money to complete the Ska-nonh Great Law of Peace Center in Liverpool, and helped coordinate the Forever Hotel Syracuse Gala celebrating the re-opening of the Marriott Downtown Syracuse in 2016. She was also a volunteer education coordinator for the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation and long-time Syracuse Alumni Rowing Association member, including serving as president from 2013-2015. Her children, Remy and Natalie, attended the JCC’s After School Program and enjoyed the Fitness Center as high school and college students. Remy was also a JCC life guard for several summers. She and her life partner, Ron Thiele, reside in Syracuse.

Six Kovod Gadol awards will be presented this year. The name translates to “highest or “great” honor in Hebrew. It will be presented to those instrumental in keeping the JCC safe during and after last year’s bomb threats. This year’s recipients are Susan DeMari, security liaison for local Jewish organizations; the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); New York State Police; Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office; Town of DeWitt Police Department; and Centro.

2018 Kovod Gadol Award recipient Susan DeMari.Susan DeMari is a senior attorney adjudicator/attorney advisor with the Social Security Administration (SSA), Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. She is also a nationally-certified instructor in legal analysis and writing for SSA decision writers. As the volunteer security liaison with the Jewish Federation of Central New York, DeMari is the designated community contact for federal, state, county, local and university law enforcement agencies in CNY on behalf of the Jewish community. She’s been instrumental in helping prevent, and respond to, threats from groups targeting the CNY Jewish community. She is also a volunteer member of the Board of Police Commissioners for oversight of the Town of DeWitt Police Department, including expenditures, personnel and departmental activity. DeMari received her bachelor’s in criminal justice from Brockport State University and her law degree from Syracuse University’s College of Law.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seal.The Federal Bureau of Investigation is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States, and its principal federal law enforcement agency. It is staffed by more than 30,000 agents, analysts and other professionals who work across the globe to protect the U.S. from terrorism, espionage, cyber-attacks and major criminal threats, and provide its many partners with services, support, training and leadership.

New York State Police seal.Since 1917, the New York State Police has been working to ensure the safety of the state's roadways, prevent and investigate crime, prepare for and respond to emergencies and disasters, and provide support to other law enforcement agencies. The State Police’s Canine Unit came to “sweep” the JCC during last year’s bomb threats.

Onondaga County Sheriff’s seal.Both Onondaga County and the Onondaga County Sheriff’s office were formed on March 5, 1794. The Sheriff’s office provides a range of services, including law enforcement through its Police Department, which consists of the road patrol, criminal investigations and special enforcement areas; corrections (Jamesville Correctional Facility and Onondaga County Justice Center); pistol licenses; fingerprinting; crime mapping; and animal abuser registry.

Town of DeWitt Police seal.Town of DeWitt Police Department is a highly trained and professional law enforcement agency providing 24-hour patrol coverage, criminal investigations, crime-scene processing, community policing, motorcycle unit and youth education programs. The department is a Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., (CALEA®)-accredited agency and a New York State accredited agency. DeWitt police were the first law enforcement responders during the bomb threats made against the JCC last year, and they regularly provide security training to JCC staff.

Centro logo.Centro (Central New York Regional Transportation Authority) is the public transportation provider for Onondaga, Oswego, Cayuga, and Oneida counties, including the cities of Syracuse, Oswego, Fulton, Auburn, Rome and Utica. It employs 638 people and operates a fleet of 238 vehicles, logging over 5.5 million miles annually. Centro provided busing for JCC staff and children to its offsite evacuation area during last year’s bomb threats.

Sheldon “Shelly” Kruth and Marilyn Pinsky—two individuals who have made their mark through service to the entire Jewish community—will be inducted into the JCC Hall of Fame this year.

2018 Hall of Fame Award recipient Shelly Kruth.Shelly Kruth, CPA, is a managing partner with the public accounting firm D’Arcangelo and Co. The Syracuse native graduated from Nottingham High School and Syracuse University, and became a certified public accountant in 1975. As a child, he attended the JCC summer camp and participated in other JCC programs. His connection to the JCC continued as an adult serving on the JCC’s board, where he served as board president from 1981-1982, co-chaired the fund-raising committee for the Holocaust Library, and co-chaired the committee for the Fitness Center addition. Kruth’s service to other local organizations includes serving on the Jewish Federation of Central New York board, as an officer at Temple Adath Yeshurun and past president of the March of Dimes local chapter. Kruth married his high school sweetheart, Karen, and they have three daughters and five grandchildren.

2018 Hall of Fame Award recipient Marilyn Pinsky.After serving 13 years as commissioner of the Onondaga County Department of Aging and Youth, Marilyn Pinsky retired from a 36-year career in county government. A native of Port Jervis, NY, she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Syracuse University. She is an active member of Friends of the Central Library (FOCL), Jewish Community Foundation of Central New York, National Council of Jewish Women, the advisory committee of the Thursday Morning Roundtable, and the Syracuse Area Middle East Dialogue Group (SAMED). She is the creator and convener of the group Community Dining Syracuse. Her community involvement has also included serving as president of the InterReligious Council of Central New York, president of Jewish Family Services, and as a board member of the Community Foundation of CNY, Jewish Federation of CNY, Leadership Greater Syracuse, YMCA, Syracuse Symphony, Syracuse Stage, Success By Six Policy Council, Oasis, Onondaga Citizens League, and the board of visitors of the College of Human Services and Health Professions of Syracuse University. Marilyn Pinsky was married for 50 years to Philip C. Pinsky, an attorney and state legislative authority, who served as president of both the Jewish Federation of CNY and the JCC of Syracuse. They have two daughters, one son and five grandchildren.

This year’s Leslie Award, the third to be given since being introduced in 2016, will be presented to Carolyn Weinberg, coordinator of PJ Library® in CNY, a JCC of Syracuse program. “The Leslie” recognizes outstanding commitment and service to the JCC and the local community—the qualities which the award’s namesake, Leslie London Neulander, personified through her many volunteer pursuits.

2018 Leslie Award recipient Carolyn Weinberg.Carolyn Weinberg has been an active and proud member of the Syracuse Jewish community. Having grown up Syracuse, she was always involved in the different Jewish youth groups within the community and served as a local and regional board member of United Synagogue Youth (USY). After graduating from Binghamton University, she worked in international human resources in New York City and New Jersey for over six years. She and her husband, Andy, moved back to the Syracuse area with their young daughter in 2011. They continued to increase their family and create a new social network in the community. In 2014, Weinberg became PJ Library coordinator for the Central New York area. She has continued to enhance local PJ Library membership and programing. In 2016, she helped pilot the new PJ Our Way Program locally for 9-11-year olds. She also serves as recording secretary for Temple Adath Yeshurun’s executive board. She is active in children, family and young adult programs throughout the community, and is always excited to help welcome new families to the area. She and husband Andy reside in Fayetteville with their three young children and biggest supporters, Isabella, Gabriel and Aiden.

Invitations for the JCC’s annual meeting and gala were recently mailed out. There are still a variety of affordable corporate and individual sponsorships, as well as program booklet advertiser spots. To purchase tickets, or for information on event sponsorships, advertising or to place a congratulatory message in the program booklet for any of this year’s honorees, contact Erin Hart at 315-445-2360, ext. 112, or

The JCC of Syracuse, located on Thompson Rd. in DeWitt, was established in 1861 and is the second oldest JCC in North America. It offers a range of quality programs and services for all ages, including infant/toddler care, preschool, before and after school care and vacation camps for school-age children, summer day camps, teen programs, a sports and fitness center, outdoor heated pool and swimming lessons during the summer, adult programming, and services for seniors including a senior kosher meal program.